Great Expectations

 "In a city of great expectations, is it time to settle for what you can get?"
- Carrie Bradshaw

If there's one thing New York never falls short on, it's choices. Hungry? One could conceivably live a lifetime here without eating at the same place twice, what with the sheer number of dining choices plus the constant opening, shuttering, popping up and redesigning of restaurants. Bored? There's no shortfall of concerts, parties, shows and festivals; the problem is not so much what to do but how to fit everything into 24 hours.

So you can imagine what it's like when it comes to dating.

Depending on what you're looking for, dating in New York can make you feel like a kid in a candy store or a parched wanderer in a desert coming across nothing but mirages. Even if you're not a total jackass, the seemingly infinite choices renders most people paralyzed and unable to make a firm decision. A recent article in the New Yorker put it quite well:

"When there is something better out there, you can’t help trying to find it. You fall prey to the tyranny of choice—the idea that people, when faced with too many options, find it harder to make a selection. If you are trying to choose a boyfriend out of a herd of thousands, you may choose none of them. Or you see someone until someone better comes along. The term for this is “trading up.” It can lead you to think that your opportunities are virtually infinite, and therefore to question what you have."

On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who are tired of the seeming futility of it all and who just want to get off the damn dating carousel. The same article explains this feeling as such:

"If you really are eager, to say nothing of desperate, for a long-term partner you may have to contend with something else—the tyranny of unwitting compromise ... The people who are looking may not be the people you are looking for ... Some people are too picky, and others aren’t picky enough. Some hitters swing at every first pitch, and others always strike out looking."

When you've spent some time in the dating loop, it becomes tricky not to fall prey to either of the two. I constantly encounter men and women who seem to be perpetually looking over their date's shoulder, just in case someone better walks in between the amuse-bouche and first course.

Almost as frequently, however, you see people talk themselves into relationships, resigned to the thought that anything is better than nothing. Once I began hovering around the 30-year-old mark, I found myself at greater risk of falling into this trap, in danger of getting pushed in at a moment of weakness by some thoughtless remark. I don't know why but people now seem to find it acceptable to say things to me like "Are you ever going to get married?" or "Don't you get scared that you'll never get married?" While I'm probably entitled to respond with "That's really none of your goddamn business", I usually end up explaining that if I wanted to get married just for the sake of getting married, I'm sure I could find some other desperate person out there willing to hold hands while we place our heads under the axe of that tyrant called compromise.

Lately, my conviction has grown stronger that it is worth it to hold out for something that defies both tyrannies. That something was once spelled out for me by Mike, my dear friend Che's amazing husband, in the simplest yet most crystal clear terms. As I launched into my latest dating saga in the hope that he could decode the most recent confounding guy's mysterious tactical maneuvers, he stopped me in mid-sentence.

"Drop him."
"What? But you haven't even heard the whole story yet!"
"I don't need to. You deserve someone who's crazy about you. Plain and simple."

I stood there with mouth agape for a few seconds until the truth of what he said sank in. He's right. At the end of the day, that's what it's about. The only reason to be together is if you're both crazy about each other. If one of you is still looking over the other's shoulder, or if the only thing that binds you is the fear of missing the boat, that's simply not enough.

The greater the expectation, the greater the reward. I believe it.


Every now and then, I get a fortune cookie packing a nugget of wisdom ...
Whether it's a job, a sock or that lovin' feeling you've lost, sometimes the best thing to do is to go and get yourself something shiny and new. Free and unsolicited advice from my spicy beef tendon noodle-filled tummy to you. 

And heck, since I already brought it up, how about some gratuitous young hot Maverick, huh? I didn't even know what "carnal knowledge" meant when I first saw this movie. I must've seen this at least 50 times since then and I still love this scene ...
You're welcome.

What happens in Vegas

I spent a gorgeous September weekend with the girls in Las Vegas getting into all sorts of shenanigans for my friend Kathryn's bachelorette party. Pool parties, limousines, VIP treatment at clubs, an unexpected ticket to see LMFAO, brushes with millionaire high rollers, and other events best left to the imagination ...
At one point, the situation became so surreal that I tweeted:
Since we all know that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, I will not delve into the details. But I will say this: An epic bachelorette party weekend with an amazing group of ladies in Vegas is just the stuff happily ever afters are made of.

Sometimes there is no next time

We've all done it at one time or another—put things off for later. A concert you've always wanted to see, a conversation you've been meaning to have. We always think there's time to do it all later.

But sometimes, there is no later. There's no next time.

On September 13, 2011, the music world was devastated by the sudden and tragic death of pioneering French producer, DJ Mehdi. Turntables went still, concerts were postponed and parties cancelled as his friends and peers grieved for a lost brother.

I had never heard of DJ Mehdi until I wandered into Carte Blanche's set at the Hilltop Arena tent in Electric Zoo. It would be the first and last time I would get to dance while DJ Mehdi spun magic.

I'm glad I got to enjoy Carte Blanche's music while I had the chance. The memory of Mehdi and Riton goofing it up in this dance off will always stay with me.
Say what you want to say. Dance while you can. You might not get another chance.

Rest in peace, DJ Mehdi. You will be missed.


The first time I stepped foot in World Trade Center was as a child, giddy at the promise of being on top of one of the world's tallest structures. My most indelible memory of that day, however, was not of the view from the top. It was ascending from the Path station amidst an imposing row of escalators and staring in wonder at the seemingly endless streams of black suits briskly walking up the escalators, until my aunt pulled me by the arm. "You never stand on the left side. Everyone's in a rush; let them pass," she said, teaching me my first lesson on the ways of this city that never seemed to stand still.

On September 11, 2001, I sat on my bed in Manila and watched in disbelief as the towers fell like houses of cards. All I could think of were those suits. Had all of them perished? The thought made me feel hollow.

Ten years later, I am a resident of New York. The past five years of loving every moment of living here have taught me that it is, in fact, possible to have a love affair with a city. And so, I grieve for it and those it lost on this day. My home sits three blocks away from Ground Zero. This morning, I woke up to the angelic voices of children singing in remembrance of those who perished. As I walked out to get a cup of coffee, I saw a woman dressed in black seated on a curb, hunched over in remembrance and sorrow that I can't even imagine.

I pray that this city that I love continues to rise like a Phoenix from the ashes. I, for one, will never forget.

Getting lucky at the US Open

I woke up one afternoon last week slightly cranky from getting roused by the incessant drilling on our roof and exhausted from the red-eye flight I'd taken just a few hours ago. At 6:30 am that morning, I was grumbling to my roommate Mitch about how tired I was and how all I wanted was to stay home and do nothing.

But apparently life had other plans for me.

I was lazily scrolling through Facebook on my Blackberry when a status message jumped right out at me: "I have two day tickets free today! Message me ASAP!" Without thinking twice, I called my friend Dante, tennis coach extraordinaire, and just like that, I suddenly had box seat tickets to the US Open in my hands.

"So much for laying low and no more activities. We didn't even last 24 hours!" exclaimed Mitch when I handed her a ticket.

What dumb crazy luck I have sometimes ... one minute, all I have planned is a day in my pajamas and the next, there I am sitting court side at the US Open, soaking up the sunshine, sipping beer and watching some fantastic tennis.
The occasional crazy stroke of good luck ... happily ever after in my book.

The Fear of becoming "that lady"

You know who I'm talking about: that lady on the dancefloor who's still whipping out moves from two decades ago, oblivious to how everyone around her is dancing to a different beat. Raise your hand if in the middle of shaking your groove thang, you've ever been hit with this paralyzing thought: "Are my moves getting ... old? Holy mother of ... have I become that lady?!"

It's inevitable that this thought will pop up while at an electro festival where 50% of attendees were probably just learning to walk when I was already cage dancing in a Roger Sanchez rave. Thankfully, Carte Blanche rescued me from this ridiculous paranoia with their little dance off. As the running man was whipped out shamelessly on stage, I realized, who the hell cares what the "current" dance steps are? As long as you're having a blast, that's all that matters. Besides, if you've got style like these girls, even the Roger Rabbit can look hot.

In any case, 80s style music is making a comeback so that lady might be the one with the cool moves now. One of my favorite acts at Electric Zoo was Chromeo, a pair from Montreal with really fun, 80s-inflected, synth-heavy music that just begs for a robot dance. Just check out the look and the moves of their three back-up singers. Don't they seem like they were taken straight out of an old Prince video?

But if you're curious to see how "kids these days" rage at the Zoo, you can check out this clip I took of the crowd rocking out to some solid dubstep by Diplo. Truth is, kids these days dance a lot like kids did in our time—like deliriously happy, carefree fools. Oh, and in case you're wondering, you're not hallucinating. There is in fact a guy wearing a horse head somewhere in this video.

I had such a crazy good time dancing my heart out all weekend. I don't care how old I get—nothing's gonna keep me away from the Zoo!

Down into the rabbit hole ...

A few months ago before heading to Coachella, I asked my music-savvy buddy Paul to give me a list of bands to see—me being generally clueless about what's cool in the music world but craving a new sound. The list came with a warning—something to the effect of I should be careful lest I turn into a dirty hipster addicted to obscure music, quit my job, move to Williamsburg and start a band.

"Dude, it's happened," I said to Paul yesterday as we raged to Bloody Beetroots Death Crew 77 at Electric Zoo. We had been at the festival for a good 11 hours by then, listening to everything from Daedelus to David Guetta. I had been down into the rabbit hole and back, and my mind had been blown with everything seen, heard and raged to in one day. I may not want to quit my job, give up my cushy FiDi flat for Billyburg or put all those voice lessons to use, but I was definitely addicted ... and well, I wasn't a hipster but I was definitely pretty filthy from a day of wandering through those electro fields.

While on Friday I'd braved the zoo solo (I repeat, addicted!), yesterday I went with a group of friends. And I realized how a music festival means different things to different people. For some it's a way of reliving the past—bringing back those days when we were young and a little crazy like those little fairies running around in neon wings and furry boots. I didn't dig too far into my past but when David Guetta played No Getting Over, it definitely brought back Ibiza memories ...

But I'm finding that what I'm liking about Zoo (and music festivals, in general) is hearing something I've never heard before. Let's face it; I'm no spring chicken so I've heard a fair share of music by now. So when every other song on the radio seems to be a rehashing of a song I already know, it all gets ... meh. So to see musicians pushing the envelope can be pretty exciting.

Today's my last day at the zoo, and I'm looking forward to a chill afternoon of listening to old faves like Afrojack and Chromeo, and getting my mind blown by Diplo, Boys Noize and Infected Mushroom. And maybe that dude DJ Snoopadelic (yes, it's exactly who it sounds like).

Off to the zoo!

Flying Solo at Electric Zoo

"I decided, instead of running away from the idea of a life alone,
I'd better sit down and take that fear to lunch."

There's a Sex and the City episode that closes with this line after 30 minutes of the ladies dating unsuitable men to counteract the fear of being alone, only to realize that it's a far better fate to be single than to settle for less than you're worth. While I love this message, what really stood out to me in this episode is the idea of embracing doing things with no one but yourself as company. Realizing I could be perfectly happy doing things alone opened up a floodgate of experiences for me, from traveling all over Europe and Asia to learning surfing and burlesque. So I've made it a policy to keep chasing experiences, whether I fly with company or solo. I would take flying solo over the regret of a missed opportunity any day.

Today for instance, I did one better than taking the fear of being alone to lunch ... I took it to the zoo! The Electric Zoo, to be precise.
This is not a self-portrait, I swear.

Electric Zoo is a yearly electro music festival that brings neon-clad, dubstepping masses to Randall's Island in New York. I purchased the 3-day pass a few months ago on a whim and in the end, my friends decided to just purchase Saturday passes. Since my half-hearted attempts to sell my pass didn't work, I decided why not go and lie on the grass, soak up some sunshine and listen to awesome music? Seems like a great use of a Friday afternoon, right? It was.

In front of the main stage where Tiga and Rusko were playing back-to-back sets, I kicked off my sandals, laid on the grass, swigged a beer and grooved to song after brilliant song. I never wanted for added entertainment as there was no shortage of people with batshit attempts to dance to dubstep all around me. I may have formed a hula hooping obsession over the course of the afternoon, however. Can't win them all.

The Scene

The Music

Tomorrow I'm hitting up Electric Zoo with a group of friends and it's bound to be a completely different but still awesome experience. At Coachella, there were some missed favorite songs and bands because compromises are inevitable when you do things with a group. The beauty of the solo music festival experience is that you get to listen to who you want for as long as you want. I indulged myself by finishing Tiga's and Rusko's sets, but when I realized afterwards that Chinese takeout + my bed were far more tempting than Benny Benassi's set, I bailed on the festival early, too. So easy when the only person you have to please is yourself, isn't it?

If you've always been fearful of flying solo, don't be. The freedom that comes with it is worth suffering through the initial self-consciousness, I promise. Ultimately, if you can enjoy your own company, then that's happily ever after in my book.